Game Design and Interactive Media, B.A.

Mission

Biola’s Game Design and Interactive Media major prepares students to design innovative games with emotionally-resonant stories and interactive mechanics. Located in one of the game industry’s top metro areas, Biola is uniquely positioned to train game designers in the exploration and integration of faith into the art of interactive storytelling, from technical mastery through one’s character. 

Degree Program

Game designers create the story and mechanics (rules) that form the core of the video game experience. Students learn all aspects of game development, from 3D art to programming, while focusing on designing release-quality digital games. Located within Biola’s School of Cinema & Media Arts, this degree provides students a solid foundation in visual storytelling, including screenwriting and shot composition. This culminates in an advanced team project where students complete a festival-worthy game with an underlying theme inspired by their faith.

Freshman Year

Games represent a convergence of different mediums, so freshman year introduces students to the fundamentals of cinema, 3D art and computer programming. The cinema courses are shared with writing and production students, which helps foster community and develop a common language for visual storytelling. Students also take an introductory course in game history, learning about seminal games and designers and seeing firsthand how technology has influenced the evolution of gameplay.

Sophomore Year

Sophomores are introduced to the iterative game design process. Students begin by defining the player experience they envision. Next, a “core mechanic” is chosen — this is the primary gameplay goal and method of interactivity. Students then create paper prototypes and playtest them to verify the chosen mechanic and gain feedback from fellow students. This process continues until a design is finalized.

Junior Year

Junior year goes beyond the fundamentals. Game Narratives explores how to effectively integrate story with gameplay — no easy feat due to the interactive nature of games. Game Engines gives students familiarity with the technical tools of game development, emphasizing programming and building interactive 3D worlds. These two courses lead to Intermediate Game Design, where teams of students create digital prototypes that explore themes of faith and culture through gameplay and story. Also in Level Design, students break down their games into individual moments, designing puzzles, level architecture and emotional feedback systems.

Senior Year

Seniors take everything they have learned and produce several polished digital games ready for distribution. In Advanced Game Design, project teams continue the designs they started in the intermediate course and use an iterative production process to finish and “ship” their game. Then in Senior Portfolio, each student has the opportunity to lead a project team in the creation of their own short game or vertical slice game level. The games produced in both courses will be suitable for entering in independent games festivals such as IndieCade and IGF. 

Internships

Students will have the opportunity to gain real-world experience as an intern at a game studio or related media company. Additional opportunities for growth include the Integration Seminar, which helps students explore how to bring their faith to game design — be it through evangelism, service or simply by being a light in secular industry.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and Interactive Media, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the basic components, theory, history and practices of game design (ULO 1).
  2. Demonstrate their ability to integrate their faith and distinguish between biblical and unbiblical practices in the discipline of game development (ULO 2).
  3. Apply their knowledge of game design, narrative design, art and producing to the world of their craft (ULO 3).

Each Program Learning Outcome (PLO) listed above references at least one of the University Learning Outcomes (ULO 1, 2, 3), which may be found in the General Information section of this catalog.

Admission Requirements

The entertainment industry is a highly competitive, creative and demanding business. Admission into the School of Cinema & Media Arts (CMA) is separate from and contingent upon your admission to Biola University. Admission to Biola University does not guarantee admission into the Game Design and Interactive Media major. Applications will not be considered until after the applicant has been first admitted to Biola University.

After you have completed your application to Biola University, complete your application online by the appropriate deadline indicated on the website.

Prior media experience is not a prerequisite for admission into the School of Cinema & Media Arts. As we’ll provide the education once a student, during the application process we’re more interested in discovering your potential, leadership ability, creative thinking, problem solving and Christian character. Department faculty prayerfully review all applications. Notification letters will be sent out by the deadlines listed in the schedule. You will be notified of your acceptance, if more information is required, placement on a waiting list, or non-acceptance, if applicable.

If you have any questions about the status of your application, please call the CMA office at (562) 777-4052 or write to:

Acceptance Committee
School of Cinema & Media Arts
Biola University
13800 Biola Avenue
La Mirada, CA 90639

CMA students may be required to purchase computer equipment and/or software as may be applicable for their respective degrees. While we understand the financial strains of such equipment expenditures, we also recognize that these technologically driven majors involve costs well beyond the textbooks that serve as the essential tools for many other undergraduate departments. Contact the department for specific equipment recommendations.

General Requirements

All Game Design and Interactive Media majors must achieve a minimum grade of "C" in all major courses taken at Biola. Anyone receiving a lower grade must repeat the course and receive a "C" or better.

Curriculum Requirements

The Games and Interactive Media degree combines traditional cinematic storytelling techniques with new interactive mediums to develop game designers and media artists with a Christian world view. This concentration focuses specifically on story-centric game design, while incorporating some 3D animation, visual effects, virtual reality, and computer programming.

Program-Specific Core Curriculum Course(s)
The Nature of Computing
Program Courses
CNMA 101Introduction to Visual Storytelling3
CNMA 102Visual Aesthetics3
CNMA 140History of Games and Interactive Technology3
CNMA 215Game Design Fundamentals3
CNMA 305Intermediate Game Design3
CNMA 308Digital 3D Modeling3
CNMA 311Level Design3
CNMA 325Designing Game Narratives3
CNMA 327Game Engines3
CNMA 401Advanced Game Design3
CNMA 402Game Producing3
CNMA 440Cinema and Media Arts Internship3
CNMA 456Senior Portfolio3
Electives
Select 6 credits of elective courses from the following (3 credits must be upper-division):6
2-D Design
4-D Design
Integrated Design I
Animation I
New Media Art I
New Media Art II
Introduction to Mass Media
Screenwriting I
Entertainment Business
Production Management
Sound Design
Media Literacy
Mass Media Law and Ethics
Faith and Film
Data Structures
Topics in Computer Science
Total Credits45

NOTE: The course sequence table is designed by the major department and is one way that the classes will work out properly in sequence for your major. However, there are alternative or flexible ways to rotate some of the classes within the same year/level and sometimes between year levels. Please contact your major department advisor to discuss flexible alternatives in scheduling the sequence of your classes.

Taking coursework during the summer session may also be an option to accelerate your degree path.

See Core Curriculum Program section for a list of approved Core Curriculum courses.

Game Design and Interactive Media, B.A.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BBST 103 or 1653BBST 103 or 1653
CNMA 1013BBST 209 or 2103
ENGL 100 or 1123CNMA 1023
KNES 1071CSCI 1043
GNST 1021Foreign Language (see Core Curriculum)4
Fine Arts (see Core Curriculum)3 
 14 16
Total Credits 30
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BBST 2513BBST 209 or 2103
CNMA 3083CNMA 1403
Foreign Language (see Core Curriculum)4CNMA 2153
Science (see Core Curriculum)3HIST 200, 201, or POSC 2253
Philosophy (see Core Curriculum)3Communication (see Core Curriculum)3
 16 15
Total Credits 31
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BBST 300/400 Bible Elective3BBST 3543
CNMA 3253CNMA 3053
Behavioral Science (see Core Curriculum)3CNMA 3273
KNES Activity (see Core Curriculum)1CNMA 4403
Literature (see Core Curriculum)3ENGL 3133
Writing Competency RequirementGraduation Petition due in Registrar's Office
 13 15
Total Credits 28
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BBST 3653BBST 306, 316, 326, or 3363
CNMA 3113BBST 4653
CNMA 4023CNMA 4013
ARTS/CNMA/CSCI Elective3CNMA 4563
HIST 100 or 1013ARTS/CNMA/CSCI Elective (upper-division)3
General Elective1 
 16 15
Total Credits 31

NOTE: The course sequence table is designed by the major department and is one way that the classes will work out properly in sequence for your major. However, there are alternative or flexible ways to rotate some of the classes within the same year/level and sometimes between year levels. Please contact your major department advisor to discuss flexible alternatives in scheduling the sequence of your classes.

Taking coursework during the summer session may also be an option to accelerate your degree path.

See Core Curriculum Program section for a list of approved Core Curriculum courses.

Game Design and Interactive Media, B.A.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
HNRS 1014HNRS 1054
HNRS 1024HNRS 1064
CNMA 1013CSCI 1043
CNMA 1403CNMA 1023
GNST 1021CNMA 3253
 15 17
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
HNRS 2104HNRS 2304
HNRS 2154HNRS 2314
CNMA 2153CNMA 3273
Foreign Language (see Core Curriculum)4Foreign Language (see Core Curriculum)4
 15 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
HNRS 3244HNRS 3374
HNRS 3262HNRS 3392
CNMA 3053CNMA 4013
CNMA 3113CNMA 4403
KNES 1071ENGL 3133
 Science (see Core Curriculum)3
 13 18
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
HNRS 4434HNRS 4584
BBST 4653HNRS 4672
CNMA 3083CNMA 4023
ARTS/CNMA/CSCI Elective3CNMA 4563
KNES Activity (see Core Curriculum)1ARTS/CNMA/CSCI Elective (upper-division)3
 14 15
Total Credits 122

Note: Certain CMA classes are not offered every semester. Please check with the School of Cinema and Media Arts for the most up-to-date schedule of required courses.